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Global Food Crisis

Hungry World — Are We Headed For a Global Food Crisis?

It's not fun dinnertime conversation, but the amount of news and the potential effects of growing food prices released today makes it hard to ignore. No scare-tactics, just the facts:

  • India has halted rice exports. The price of rice has doubled in the last month. India is the number two rice producer after China, and exports more than 4 million tons every year. Now that they're not exporting, there could be more big rice price jumps. It's a staple food for half the world population, especially for poor and for Asian populations. Other rice-producing countries are considering following suit.
  • US corn farmers are expected to plant less corn this year, due in part to the high cost of growing it as well as the high price they get for growing the crop for ethanol. The high corn prices will affect beef and poultry producers, passing high prices on to consumers.
  • The UN World Food Programme said food prices are affecting their ability to feed around 73 million people. They've already been forced to increase its budget by an extra half a billion dollars this year.
  • The LA Times ran a story today called "A Perfect Storm of Hunger," pointing to ballooning food and fuel prices, a slumping dollar, the demand for biofuels and a string of poor harvests. All of these factors mean that the number of needy is skyrocketing.

All of these stories appeared within the last 24 hours. Is it a case media alarm, or are we headed for big problem?


Join The Conversation
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
To be honest, there are reasons to eat foods that have been shipped for thousands of miles. Many ethnic foods just cannot be grown in your area. It has to be shipped in. I live in New York and my family is from Jamaica. No matter how hot it gets here during the summer, the conditions just are not conducive to growing Jamaican food... Also, people who have certain ethnic foods for religious purposes(for those religious holidays and whatnot) just have to have it. I do agree that people should try to buy some readily available products locally, but please realize that for many people, they just cannot solely buy foods locally. They need to find other fuel methods to transport certain foods.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I would gladly sacrifice say, paris hiltons or the entire cast of the hills share of grain and rice and corn to have one cow live.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"FDR implemented a directive to remedy a current problem at the time." - But it was and still is Unconstitutional. To make matters worse, by the FDR pushing it and the Supreme Court allowing, it is one of the major ways in which the Supreme Court went from upholding the Constitution to making laws from the bench. The other important case in this are is Brown vs. the Board of Ed. in which the Supreme court made a decision that it new was not legally sound, but did it because they said it was "the right thing to do." "I would not go so far as to blame a dead President for the ignorance of the living." - You may not, but I will. :) While I can agree that it should have been changed or discarded along the way, it is much harder in this country to take away a program after it has been enacted than it is to have not created. As the program is illegal and never should have been created, I will hold FDR liable for this. I also hold him liable for Social Security, among other programs that the Fed never should have enacted. Many of FDR's Socialism programs sounded good on paper and made it seem as if they were pulling us out of the Great Depression, but they were not what pulled this country out.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well this is coming from a lemans point of view but I would say that FDR implemented a directive to remedy a current problem at the time. If at some point in time this remedy turned into a symptom that contributed to a problem than it is the responsibility of the current powers that be to say hey wait a minute this is obsolete lets chuck it. I would not go so far as to blame a dead President for the ignorance of the living.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Sorry Hypno! I asked you a question then did not come back, I got sucked into the Heidi thread. What 3M said is exactly what I was eluding to. Federal involvement in agriculture is something we can thank FDR for. Another reason why I do not like the man.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
The initial program that crossed the line was part of the New Deal, by the Great Democratic leader FDR (and not to confuse anyone, I can not infuse enough sarcasm into the last part of that statement.) The act of subsidizing the farmers was created through the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, also known as AAA, but the Supreme Court through it out because it was unconstitutional. He was later able to push new legislation through by charging that it was regulating insterstate commerce, when really it was doing the ame thing as before. Even worse, is the Supreme Court allowed it to stick. Anyhow, my point, is that farm subsidizing was a Democratic idea. Over the years there probably been plenty of Republicans (as wells as Dems) who have abused the program, but it was created by the Dems none the less.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Yeah cine_lover I've heard over the years since the turn of the century by republicans in congress that subsidies were used for the wrong reasons. I'm sure that there are right reasons to use subsidies but apperently the general feeling in congress now is that during the 80's & 90's they were not used wisely.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Hypno, although we are a fat nation, it is not only our portions, because trust me, my Greek relatives eat more then anyone I have seen, it is also our lack of exercise, and the type of food we consume. When everything we eat is packed with High Fructose corn syrup, right down to our bread crumbs, it is no wonder we are obese. Don't even get me started on Hydrogenated oils. If we started to eat natural foods, and get exercise then we would not be so fat as a nation. Also, can you clarify what you mean when you say, "Even a lot of republicans realize that now."
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Farm subsidies have always been a little twisted. Even a lot of republicans realize that now. I realize this is not going to change any time soon but we eat way too much food. We are the fattest nation on earth. What our over consumption pales in comparison to is even more frightening and that is our waste of food. To me this is a grand sin. Food is a natural resource and just like any other resource if we learn to be conscious about eating well and stop taking it for granted the power once again is in our hands to reduce the cost in production and the cost in waste.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
FDR makes me angry.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"I think the pay to farmers to *not* produce is a way of keeping prices up to a reasonable minimum. IMO every time we fiddle with the free market system, it's risky." - That's pretty much why it is done. One of the main reason that the US Government regulates agriculture is because in most of Europe (along with many other parts of the world) Agriculture is subsidized by the Government. The US Government has attempted to pay people not to grow crops to keep the value of US agriculture products up. I personally feel it is better to keep the government out of this especially since (as noted by Cine) that the Federal government is not legally supposed to regulate agriculture, as per the Constitution. (Good going FDR and the Supreme court! Way to follow the laws.)
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Several great remarks here. I've wondered for a couple of years why ethanol is touted as such a cure-all, when it takes corn from the food supplies. I believe it was last summer, the price of tortillas--a key staple for poorer people--skyrocketed in Mexico because of pressures on the corn supply. Also, I believe there are alternate sources for ethanol, such as cellulose. That's also got a shorter growing cycle, allowing for more harvests per year. Ah, I found an article: I think the pay to farmers to *not* produce is a way of keeping prices up to a reasonable minimum. IMO every time we fiddle with the free market system, it's risky.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
UnDave, Silly boy. This would mean that the government would have to keep out of US agriculture...Like they are suppose to do.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
I wonder why they do that, UnDave. is it a crop-rotation thing? or an economic control? Because if we had an overabundance of corn, the price might go down, making it harder to make a living as a corn grower. And it might negatively affect other areas of the economy, just like when prices go up. But what do I know. Prices might stay the same or go up anyway, because of some variable I didn't think of. Which is why I am not an economist. Can anyone enlighten me here? :)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
How about we also pay farmers to actually grow crops. The two biggest farmers in my town get paid by the government to not produce in 35% of their fields. How much more corn, wheat, soybeans, etc... could we have if we produced at 100% of our ability, and let the market sort out the cost of those crops?
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
i am very concerned about the corn thing, Citizen. Thanks for posting that! Your article is great. In a perfect world, we could make it easier to grow crops for a living, and I could be a farmer and get the heck out of this office. OH, and my big news for today is the teeny tiny little green tomato that is growing on one of my plants! Almost overnight my lettuce sprouted up, and my green beans grew almost 8 inches from dirt the night before. And my jalapeno plant is making baby jalapenos. yay!
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
This issue with corn and ethanol has been one of my biggest issues with relying on food to power items. We're going to see a rise in the cost of corn and it isn't even because of a bad crop. What happens when we have a bad summer and lose x percent of the corn crops? Less food (this includes high fructose corn syrup which is the main sweetner in the US as we the major food corps barely use sugar anymore (I won't go near that processed sweetness unless I really, really have to) , less energy and way higher prices on both food and energy. I am very supportive of alternative energies, but I really think we need to watch where we focus and food is a very dangerous area.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I'm with you guys on this - local food, and veggies! I'm not a big meat-eater anyway, but I definitely go for the locally-grown and organic stuff whenever it's possible.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
Very True Syako! That's what my mom does. Every Saturday she goes to the local farmer's market and buys our vegetables there. We also grow our own tomatoes, potatoes, and lettuce in our backyard.
syako syako 9 years
Well one way to start chipping away at this problem is to eat LOCAL FOODS! Start going to your farmer's markets and buying the crops of farmers in your area, keep them in business! Because if there EVER is a huge food crisis, you will have someone local that you've been doing business with that actually knows how to grow food. Also, there's no need to eat food that's been shipped thousands of miles. The quality of the food decreases AND it takes up a lot of oil to ship your food across the world. So if you really think you need asparagus in the dead of winter check where it is from (probably PERU) and then decide to wait until March when they're in season.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I think we'll only know the answer to this one in hindsight. I'm hoping the media's just overblowing it.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
:ROTFL: Racic. It makes me nervous when I hear stories about this
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
As long as the Twinkie crops are not affected, I am not bothered by this.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
totally. Also, ethanol really isn't a good idea. It requires corn. Cows eat corn feed, therefore corn taken from the cows is less milk, so more money for dairy products.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Wow I'll take a plate of whatever that is please. :DROOL:
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